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same deceivers whom St. Peter had opposed in his second Epistle, to which this bears a striking resemblance both in sentiment and style; and it was probably written about the same time, that is, towards the close of A. D. 65, or the beginning of A. D. 66. *
The REVELATION of St. John opens with an account of the source and design of the Book, salutations to the seven churches of Asia, ascriptions of glory to God, and a description of the extraordinary vision which the apostle had of the Lord Jesus appearing to him in glory, and commissioning him to write these things to the churches, (ch. i.); then follow seven short Epistles from Christ himself to the seven principal churches of Asia, -to the church of Ephesus, (ch. ii. 1—7.), to the church of Smyrna, (ch. ii. 8—11.), to the church of Pergamos, (ch. ii. 12—17.), to the church of Thyatira, (ch. ii. 18—29.), to the church of Sardis, (ch. iii. 1–6.), to the church of Philadelphia, (ch. iii. 7–13.), and to the church of Laodicea, (ch. iii. 14—22.). After this, the heavens being opened, the apostle sees the divine glory, (ch. iv.); beholds a sealed book, which none but the Lamb can open, and hears the heavenly choir sing the praises of Him that sits on the throne, and of the Lamb that was slain, (ch. v.); views the opening of the first six seals, and the emblematical discovery of future events made after each of them, (ch. vi.), hears the number of the sealed of the tribes of Israel, and sees an innumerable multitude of all nations before the throne of God, (ch. vii.); views the opening of the seventh seal, and the appearance of seven angels with seven trumpets, (ch. viii. 145.); hears the first four trumpets sounded, and the denunciation of the three woes, (ch. viii. 6—13.), the fifth trumpet, and the first woe, (ch. ix. 1—12.), the sixth trumpet, and the second woe, (ch, ix. 12, 13.); beholds, in a vision, a mighty angel with an open little book in his hand, which the apostle receives and eats up, (ch, x.). He is directed to measure the temple, the altar, and the worshippers, but to leave the outer court to the Gentiles,’ (ch. xi. 1, 2.). Power is given to two witnesses, who prophesy in sackcloth 1260 days, (ch. xi. 3—6.). The beast makes war upon them, and slays them; but after three days and a half they arise and ascend into heaven; and divine judgments overtake their enemies, (ch. xi. 7—14.). The seventh trumpet sounds; and a discovery is made of the glorious events that shall follow, (ch. xi. 15—19.). The apostle sees in vision a travailing woman, watched by a red dragon, that he might devour her offspring: she is delivered of a son, who is caught up to heaven, and she flees into the wilderness, (ch. xii. 1–6.). Michael overcomes and casts out Satan, at which there is great joy in heaven ; and woe is denounced on the earth, because of Satan's rage and malice, (ch. xii. 7– 12.). The dragon persecutes the woman, who escapes, with the wings which are given her, into the wilderness, and is preserved from his unwearied and varied efforts, (ch. xii. 13—17.). The apostle sees a beast rising out of the sea,' of great power, rage, and success, (ch. xiii. 1—10.);
* Comprehensive Bible, Introd, to Jude.
and afterwards “a second beast, rising out of the earth,' exercising the power of the first beast, making an image of it, and compelling all to worship it, (xiii. 11—18.); has a view of the Lamb on Mount Zion with the 144,000 elect, and hears the proclamations, or warnings, given by several angels, (ch. xiv.); views seven angels prepared to execute judgment, for which purpose seven vials are given to them, and the temple is filled with smoke, (ch. xv.). The pouring out of the seven vials, with the judgments which followed, (ch. xvi.). The vision of the great harlot, the mystical Babylon, and her utter desolation, (ch. xvii.); the lamentation of the kings and merchants at her fall, and the rejoicing of the apostles and prophets over it, (ch. xviii.); the exultation in heaven over her, and at the approach of the heavenly Jerusalem, (ch. xix. 1—10.). Christ and his followers are seen on white horses, obtaining great and decisive victories, and utterly destroying all opponents, especially the beast and the false prophets and their adherents, who are cast alive into the lake of fire and brimstone, (ch. xix. 11—21.). Satan is bound by an angel, and imprisoned in the abyss for a thousand years, (ch. xx. i—3.). The glorious state of the church during that period, (ch. xx. 4–6.). Satan is again loosed, deceives the nations, and excites a terrible war against the church; but the assailants are destroyed by fire from heaven, and Satan is cast into hell, (ch. xx. 7—10.). The general resurrection and final judgment, (ch. XX. 11–15.). A description of the new heaven, and new earth, and of the new Jerusalem, which is seen coming down from heaven, in which the redeemed dwell in the presence, light, and glory of God and the Lamb, (ch. xxi. xxii. 145.). The angel attests these things to be faithful and true, and forbids John to worship him, (ch. xxii. 6—9.). Christ himself shews the apostle, that the state of men will soon be unchangeably fixed by his coming to judgment; declares who shall enter heaven, and who shall be excluded; urgently calls upon all who hear, to invite all who are athirst, and are willing to accept of his salvation; and denounces plagues on all who add to, or take away from the words of this prophecy, (ch. xxii. 10—19.). The apostle desires the speedy advent of Christ, and concludes with a benediction on his readers, (ch. xxii. 20, 21.)* 4. By the principal facts being attested by certain commemo
rative ordinances, such as,
Among the Jews, Circumcision, the seal of the covenant with Abraham, Gen. xvii. 10.—Herodotus, it is true (in lib, ii.) says, “ The Colchians, Egyptians, and Ethiopians are the only nations in the world who have used circumcision from the remotest period; and the Phænicians and Syrians, who inhabit Palestine, acknowledge they received this from the Egyptians.” But Herodotus, as Dr. A. Clarke observes, cannot mean Jews by Phænicians and Syrians: if he does, he convicts himself of falsity; for no Jew ever did, or ever could, acknowledge this with the history of Abraham in his
hand.* But not only the Jews, but the Arabs, who are the descendants of Ishmael, retain the rite of circumcision to this day; and the latter perform it, as the other Mahometans also do, at the age of thirteen, the precise age of Ishmael when he was circumcised, Gen. xvii. 25.*
The Passover, instituted to commemorate the preservation of the Israelites when all the first-born of the Egyptians were destroyed; in celebrating which, the ancient Jews had in view the sufferings of the Messiah, as is evident from Pesachim, fol. 119, quoted by Schoetgen; where, among the five things said to be contained in the Great Hallel, or the Hymn composed of several Psalms sung after the paschal supper, one is, the sufferings of the Messiah, for which they refer to Ps. 116. 9.
Intimately connected with this, is the redemption of the first-born, agreeably to the divine law, Num. xviii. 15, 16.— This is one of the rites which is still practised among the Jews. According to Leo of Modena, it is performed in the following manner: When the child is thirty days old, the father sends for one of the descendants of Aaron : several persons being assembled on the occasion, the father brings a cup, containing several pieces of gold and silver coin. The priest then takes the child into his arms, and addressing himself to the mother, he says, “Is this thy son ?' Mother. “Yes.' Priest. “ Hast thou never had another child, male or female, a miscarriage, or untimely birth?' Mother. 'No.' Priest. “This being the case, this child, as first-born, belongs to me.' Then turning to the father, he says, “If it be thy desire to have this child, thou must redeem it. Father. I present thee with this gold and silver for this purpose. Priest. “Thou dost wish, therefore, to redeem the child ?' Father. “I do wish so to do. The priest, then turning himself to the assembly, says, “Very well: this child, as first-born, is mine; as it is written in Bemidbar, (ch. 18. 16.) Thou shalt redeem the first-born of a month old for five shekels ; but I shall content myself with this in exchange.' He then takes two gold crowns, or thereabouts, and returns the child to his parents.
The feast of Tabernacles, kept in commemoration of their dwelling in tents in the wilderness for forty years. The first and last days were to be kept as sabbaths, on which there were solemn assemblies; and for seven days sacrifices were offered. On the other festivals, two bullocks sufficed, (Num. 28. 11, 19, 27.), and on the festival at the beginning of this month, only one was appointed; but, on the firsi day of this festival, thirteen young bullocks were appointed; and so on each successive day, with the decrease of only one bullock, till on the seventh day, there were only seven, making in all seventy bullocks. The lambs, and the rams also, were in a double proportion to the number sacrificed at any other festival. This was an expensive service; but more easy at this time of the year than any other, as Bp. Patrick observes, because now their barns were full, and their wine-presses overflowed; and their hearts might well be
+ Note on Luke axi. 19.
Comprehensive Bible, Note in loco.
supposed to be more enlarged than at other times, in thankfulness to God for the multitude of his mercies. The Jewish doctors gave this reason for the daily diminution of the number of the bullocks : the whole number, say they, was according to the languages of the seventy nations of the world;
and the diminution of one every day signified, that there should be a gradual diminution of those nations till all things were brought under the government of the Messiah ; in whose days ‘no sacrifices shall remain, but those of thanksgiving, prayer and praise.'* This feast was kept with greater jollity than any of the other festivals. Hence, in the Talmud, it is often called on chug, the feast, kat' goxny; and by Philo, copTWV Meylotny, the greatest of the feasts; and hence also, it became more noticed by the heathen than any other. It is probable that Cecrops borrowed from it the law which he made in Athens, that the master of every family should after harvest make a feast for his servants, and eat together with them who had taken pains with him in tilling his grounds.' (Macrob. Saturn. 1. i. c. 10.) And, as it was kept at the time of vintage, it is not unlikely that the heathens borrowed their Bacchanalia from it; and this might lead Plutarch into that egregious mistake, that the Jews celebrated it in honour of Bacchus, ' because he had a feast exactly of the same kind, called the feast of tabernacles, oknun; which they celebrated in the time of vintage, bringing tables into the open air, furnished with all kinds of fruit, and sitting under tents made of vine branches and ivy.' (Sympos. liv. Q. 6.) † At this feast, there was an extraordinary ceremony of which the rabbins inform us, though there is not the least hint of it in the law of Moses ; namely, the drawing water out of the pool of Siloam, and pouring it, mixed with wine, on the sacrifice as it lay on the altar. This they are said to have done with such expressions of joy, that it became a common proverb, “He that never saw the rejoicing of drawing of water, never saw rejoicing in all his life.' (Mishnah, Succah, c. v. § i.) The Jews pretend to ground this custom on the following passage of Isaiah, (ch. 12. 3.); • With joy shall ye draw water out of the wells of salvation ;' and to this ceremony Jesus is supposed to refer, when in the last day, the great day of the feast, he stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink: he that believeth on me, as the Scripture saith, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water,'(Jno.7.37, 38.) : thereby calling off the people from their carnal mirth and festive and pompous ceremonies, to seek spiritual refreshment for their minds. I
The feast of Pentecost, established in commemoration of the giving of the law, Lev. 23. 15. Deut. 16. 9; and observed in the time of the Apostles, Acts 2. 1, &c.
The feast of Purim, 9, pur, seems to be derived either from the Persian &?, bahr, and __, bar, a part, portion, lot, orsz, pari, any thing which happens fortuitously, or fortunately; whence the annual festival
* Comprehensive Bible, Note on Numb. xxix. 12.
+ Idem, Note on Lev. xxiii. 31.
in commemoration of the wonderful deliverance of the Jews from their enemies was called 0°79, Purim, or in Arabic and Persian fi, Fuhr, or Lots; which has been observed by them, in all places of their dispersion, from that day to the present time, without any interruption.* Though some Christians have hesitated to receive the Book of Esther into the sacred canon, yet it has always been received by the Jews, not only as perfectly authentic, but also as one of the most excellent of their sacred books. That it is a genuine and faithful description of a real fact, the observation of the feast of Purim, to the present day, is a sufficient evidence; since it is impossible, and in fact inconceivable, that a nation should institute, and afterwards continue to celebrate without interruption, through every generation of that people, in a long succession of ages, in whatever places they may have sojourned, this solemn annual festival, merely because one of their nation had written an agreeable fable or romance. It has been remarked, as an objection to this book, that the name of God no where occurs in it: his superintending providence, however, is frequently illustrated. It is shewn, indeed, in every part of the work ; disconcerting evil designs, and producing great events, by means seemingly inadequate. It also presents an interesting description of mortified pride, and of malice baffled to the destruction of its possessors ; and exhibits a very lively representation of the vexations and troubles, the anxieties, treachery, and dissimulation of a corrupt court. †
Fasts in memory of the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple by Nebuchad nezzar.—It appears from 2 Kings xxv. 8, that Nebuzar-adan came from Riblah to Jerusalem on the seventh of the fifth month; but it seems from Jer. li. 5, that he did not set fire to the temple and city till the tenth day, being probably occupied on the intervening days in taking the vessels out of the house of the Lord, and collecting together all the riches that could be found. In memory of this calamity, the Jews keep two fasts to this day; the seventeenth of the fourth month, which falls in June, for the destruction of Jerusalem, and the ninth of the fifth month, which falls in July, for the destruction of the temple ; both of which are mentioned by Zechariah (vii. 3—5; viii. 19,) as kept from this event till his time, a period of 70 years, under the names of the fast of the fourth month, and the fast of the fifth month. I
Among Christians, Buptism, appointed to be administered to all Christian converts, Matt. 28. 19; Mark 16. 16; administered to three thousand, Acts 2. 41; to the family of Lydia, Acts 16. 15; of the jailor, 23; and which is an emblem of the death and resurrection of Christ, Rom. 6.6. $
The Lord's Supper, instituted in remembrance of our Lord's death, Matt. 26. 26; Mark 14. 22; Luke 22. 19; Acts 2. 42; 1 Cor. 10. 16 ; and the requisites to the proper receiving of which are stated, 1 Cor. 11. 28; the disorders committed therein by the Corinthians reproved, 1 Cor.
* Comprehensive Bible, Note on Esther, ix. 21.
I Note on Jeremiah 41. 19.
+ Concluding Remarks on Esther. Index of subjects in voce.